Duterte gov't mulls forming own social media fact-checking team

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2020 03:08 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on September 28, 2020. Presidential Photo

MANILA— The Philippine government could soon have its own fact-checking team.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque raised the possibility after President Rodrigo Duterte called out Facebook after the social media giant took down several propaganda networks in support of the administration.

The move did not sit well with the popular 75-year-old leader, who won in 2016 with the help of a strong social media campaign.

"Ang punto dito bakit kapag pabor sa gobyerno tinatanggal? Kapag pabor sa oposisyon hindi tinatanggal?" Roque said in a Palace press briefing on Tuesday.

(The point here is why do they remove pages that are in favor of the government? And they allow pages against the government?)

ABS-CBN News has reached out to Facebook for comment.

The Palace mouthpiece questioned Facebook's partnerships with local media outfits Rappler and Vera Files as fact-checkers, saying the social media giant only tapped those who are critical of the Duterte administration.

"Ang iba't-ibang mga bansa ngayon, nagsisimula na 'yung proseso na gobyerno na ang kumukuha ng fact-checkers... Pag-aaralan po natin kung dapat gawin na natin 'yan dahil hindi naman tayo makakapayag na ang fact-checkers ay tanging mga laban lamang sa gobyerno," Roque said.

(Other countries have started the process of getting fact-checkers... We will also study that because we cannot allow fact-checkers to be limited to those who are against the government.)

Both Rappler and Vera Files have received certification from the International Fact-Checking Network.

Roque clarified that the President only wants to talk to Facebook and is not after banning the social media platform, which enjoys a wide user base among Filipinos.

"Ang sinasabi ni Presidente, pag-usapan 'yan dahil pareho naman sila ng sinusulong ang karapatan ng malayang pananalita at malayang merkado ng mga ideya," he said.

(What the President is saying: let's talk about it because we're both pushing for the same rights of free speech and a free marketplace of ideas.)